Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Christmas I Didn't Know I'd Have

My mom started receiving hospice care in May.

Her Alzheimer's had progressed to the point that she needed to be in bed full time, so her doctor signed the form allowing for extra nurses to come in and tend to her at home.

The prognosis? Approximately six months to live.

I remember when I heard the news. I started counting on my fingers, "June, July, August, September, October, November."

Then it hit me that I might not have my mom with me during this holiday season.

Well, although my mother is still in bed, and although she still doesn't know who I am, she is doing so well, and so I thought I'd post a few photos of this Christmas season that I didn't know I would have.  (Plus at the bottom of this post, I kind of opened up my heart regarding what's going on in my life.... Thank you for caring so much about our family.)

On Thanksgiving, after Eric, our children, and I ate dinner at our own home, we drove into Long Beach to visit my sister and then headed over to Mom and Dad's house to help them decorate their tree.  (My dad had called me the week before to let me know the tree was all ready for us!)

When I saw the little tree on the patio outside my mom's room, I asked, "Where do you want me to set this up?"

In the 27 years my parents have lived in that house, it's always been in the living room.

"Well," my dad replied, thoughtfully. "I think it should go in here with Mother."

You see, the heart of the home has shifted to Mom's bedroom. We eat dinner in there with her, we sort through photo albums in there...and it was only fitting that we set up Christmas right where she could see it.

This is Cheryl, one of my mom's full-time caregivers.  This was her FIRST Christmas tree ever.  Isn't that fun that she got to decorate with us?

And the lighting isn't right on this photo, but I still love it.  (That's my mom and dad...)

Grace, Alia, me, and Cheryl--putting on the ornaments:

My dad always picks one of these paper angels to put on the top.  Page and I made them in kindergarten (same teacher, two years apart):

My mom is SO funny...she never wore headbands like this before, but now she is ready for a party at pretty much any moment.

Sweet Alia...

The finished tree:

Ethan and Spencer set up the nativity in the front room so there's still "Christmas" in there.  My dad told me that he and my mom didn't have a nativity when they were first married, but one day at church, the Sunday School teacher said that every home should have one.

The next day, my mom went out and bought this:

In the weeks since we put up the decorations, our Thursday visits have been beautiful. We eat together and sing Christmas carols. My mom hugs me and kisses me, and I help my dad with paperwork and little household tasks. Really, life is good. It's simple and precious. Such a gift, don't you think?

But there are hard things going on right now for me, as well. 

Tonight is good, so I think I can write about it without sounding like a downer, but a couple of nights ago, I was feeling really low. 

There are some big decisions I'm trying to make right now, and the demands on my time sometimes feel too heavy. (I won't go into detail because I know I'm not the only one who feels this way...)

But I had one of the sweetest experiences when I opened up my Bible to Jeremiah 32:27. It says this:  "Behold, I am the there any thing too hard for me?"

When I read that verse, I heard my mom's voice in my head.  She loved that scripture, and she would quote it often:

"April, we don't need to worry about that. The Lord will take care of us. Is there anything too hard for Him?"

I wish you could have heard those words being said in her voice. The confidence, the faith, and the utter assurance that she knew what she was talking about was enough to totally quiet any concerns I might have been having.

And as I read those words the other night, that same peace came back.

I've been hearing from a lot of you lately, and I know that your lives are anything but easy. Some of you are going through struggles I can't even imagine, and I wish with all my heart that I could make things better for you. But because I am not able to come do your dishes or sweep your porch right now, I share these thoughts with the hope that they will bring you the same comfort they brought me.

I have no doubt that as we turn our hearts to the Lord and ask Him to show us our lives from His perspective, He lifts the burdens from our shoulders and helps us to clearly see that life is a gift.

Thank you so much for your friendship.  (And Merry Christmas!)

With love,

Thursday, November 20, 2014

New Power of Moms Site is Live!!

Just a quick announcement in case anyone hasn't seen it yet...

Our brand new Power of Moms website has just gone live, and I couldn't be more excited.

Our designer, the wonderful Zach Swinehart*, went above and beyond to create this new mobile-friendly site, and Saren's husband, Jared, has been handling all of the tech/login details SO beautifully. (Getting everything on a website to work isn't as easy as it sounds!)

Add to all of that the effort of our board of moms (who are helping us iron out the inevitable kinks), and you now have a gathering place for deliberate mothers that is poised to strengthen the world.

Such a gift. I feel lucky to be a part of it.

So if you'd like to check it out, click here or on the image below for a little tour!

(And we would LOVE for you to share the website with your friends.  Thanks so much!)

*Need some design work done? I can't recommend Zach enough. Click here to visit his website.   :)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Lord Let My Dad Live (and How that Changed Me)

A lot has been going on behind the scenes here that I will need to explain in future posts. Some of those things are beautiful and sweet, and some of them are really hard. (But isn't that the case for everyone?)

However, one experience keeps coming to the front of my mind, and I felt impressed to sit down today and record it.

A few weeks ago, while I was visiting and caring for my parents, my dad's heart stopped.

The first time, he fell flat on his back in the kitchen, and since we didn't know what had happened, and since he seemed pretty much fine (though a bit dazed), I had him rest in the front room and watch TV with Grace, Ethan, and Spencer while Alia and I got my mom changed for bed.

Then it happened again.

I heard my children scream from the front room, "Mom! Grandpa stopped breathing! Mom! Come help us!"

I sprinted across the front room, frantically trying to call 9-1-1 as I ripped off the gloves I'd been wearing, not sure what I was about to see or what was going to be required of me.

Alia pulled out her own phone and said, "I'll call 9-1-1. You take care of Grandpa."

So I threw down my phone and bee-lined to my dad.

He was staring straight forward. His body was rigid. There was no breathing. No response. Only a quick gasp or a jerk every couple of seconds, like his body was fighting to live.

In that moment, I had no idea what to do. I couldn't lift him out of the chair. I didn't know if this was something related to his diabetes or not. He hadn't had any chest pains or any problems earlier (other than that fall) but he'd been totally fine when I sent him to rest.

So I did what I have been taught to do my whole life.

I wrapped my arms around him, I closed my eyes, and with all the faith of my heart, I said, "Heavenly Father, please help us."

Within three second, my dad started breathing again. His body calmed, and he looked me in the eyes and began talking to me...totally unaware that anything had just happened.

"Dad," I replied as I hugged and kissed him, "We almost lost you. You weren't breathing or responding. The ambulance is on its way."

At that point, Alia handed me the phone, and the emergency operator guided me to take my dad into the living room and help him lie down on the floor.

Now the short story is that my dad received a pacemaker the next day--after a frightening night of flat-lining twice at the hospital.  Although he has had to go into the hospital a second time since then, he is gratefully still with us, a blessing for which I can't thank the Lord enough.

But what I need to record here is one of the most precious moments I have ever experienced.

It happened as I knelt by my dad's side while we waited for the paramedics. I didn't know if I was ever going to be with him again in this life.

I kissed his cheeks and his forehead and said, "I love you, Dad. I love you so much."

He kissed my cheek and replied, "I know you do. And I love you, too."

Such a simple moment, really. But it's one that put everything into perspective for me.

If I were to have lost my dad that night, I would have had zero regrets.

Because of my mom's Alzheimer's, I have been at their home practically every Thursday evening for years. I have been going through photo albums with him, we've had fun at the beach, we've eaten dinners together and laughed at funny memories. He's listened to each of the chapters of the book I'm writing for my mom.

In addition to all that, we have a lifetime of beautiful experiences as a family, late-night poster-making for my student council campaigns, hours and hours when I got to snuggle next to him while he read the newspaper or watched TV at night.

We obviously want to make many more memories together, but when the time comes for us to part, I have a powerful feeling of peace--because we're ready.

This idea has gotten me thinking about all of my relationships.

If the situation had been different--if I had been waiting for the paramedics to come for my husband, one of my children, another member of my extended family, or a dear friend, have I lived my life and prioritized my relationships in such a way that I would feel that same peace?

One of the biggest lessons my dad taught me was this:

"If there is something that needs to change in your life, do it now. Don't wait until tomorrow or the new year. Make it happen today."

So I'm sharing a few changes I'm committed to making right now. (And I'd love for you to share yours in the comments.)

(1) I'm going to do a better job taking care of Eric. He gives me shoulder massages and takes me on dates and puts me down for naps. Although he says he's just fine and that he doesn't expect more from me, I want him to know--every single day--that he's my hero and my true love.

(2) When Spencer puts something on the "Wondering List," I'm actually going to do the research with him.  (We looked up tanks and machine guns on Saturday.)

(3) When Ethan tells me about his Lego designs and goes into detail about everything he loves in the Lego magazine, I'm really going to pay attention. These mean a lot to him, so they mean a lot to me. (I am learning a lot about Legos...)

(4) When I have the chance to spend time with Grace (who seems to miss me the most when she's at school), I am going to savor those moments and make sure she knows how much I adore her...even when I'm feeling tired or grumpy.

(5) When Alia asks me to help her with her book or wants to record a podcast with me, I will make it an appointment -- instead of always saying, "I'm too tired tonight."

(6) When I visit my mom and dad, I want to record as many details as I can...especially asking my dad to tell me more stories from his early years. My children and grandchildren need to know these amazing people who came before them, and what a gift it is that we have this time together right now.

Am I going to be perfect at all of this?

Probably not.

Well, definitely not.

But the more experiences I have, the more I know that being perfect isn't the point. It's this trying--this consistent work in the midst of the "stuff" of life when we get to take care of the people that we love.

Sending love to all of YOU today! Your friendship through this blog means more than you know.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Mom's Birthday: Frozen Yogurt with a Special Twist

Oh, we had a fun Thursday night with my mom this week.

First, here's a section of the chapter I read to her, and then there's a fun story at the end.  :)


One day early in my motherhood, when I had three preschoolers, my husband, Eric, could tell I needed a break. He arranged to take our children out for an afternoon and dropped me off for a special date with my mom (just the two of us!).

First stop was our favorite frozen yogurt store.

I was giddy with excitement. I was wearing real clothes. I’d put on makeup and done my hair, and just walking into a business establishment without a diaper bag felt like I was walking into a spa.

Mom and I placed our orders, and then when we sat down at our table to eat our yogurt, she said, “Now close your eyes for a minute.”

“What?” I asked—totally confused.

“Close your eyes. I have a surprise.”

So I closed my eyes and listened while my mom rustled around with a paper sack she’d brought with her and set some things on our table.

"What on earth is she doing?" I thought to myself.

Thirty seconds passed, and then a minute. Finally it was quiet, and she said, “Okay! You can open your eyes!”

There on the table were two crystal goblets and two silver spoons.  She’d transferred our yogurt from the paper cups into the goblets, and, with a big smile on her face, said, “Today I am eating yogurt with a queen.”

I wish I could accurately explain how I felt at that point.

I think I must have laughed and looked around to see if anyone in the store thought we looked ridiculous, but really, as we sat together with our goblets of yogurt, laughed about the funny things my children had been doing lately, and talked about our lives and our goals and our families, I thought, “There couldn’t be a more beautiful mother in the whole world.”


Okay, so I wrote that part of my book from my bed on Sunday morning, while Gracie was snuggled up next to me--reading along and making helpful suggestions.

When I finished, I read the draft aloud to both of my girls (Alia had joined us), and we started talking about what we would do to celebrate my mom's birthday this week. (She turned 79!)

"I know!" Gracie exclaimed, "Let's give Grandma frozen yogurt in crystal goblets!"

There are certain ideas that, when you hear them, just feel perfect.

This was one of them.

All week we anticipated "that moment," when I would read her my story and we would bring in the goblets.

"Are you excited?" my children would ask.

"More than you know..." I would say.

To be honest, I didn't know if her memory would even allow her to connect the two events, but it didn't matter. I wanted to create that moment for my children. I wanted to emblazon that story into their memories so they would never forget their amazing heritage.

Once we arrived on Thursday with our bag of dinner ingredients and a whole set of goblets wrapped in dish towels, we rested for a bit, and then Gracie and I ran down the street to buy the yogurt. 

"You must be having a party!" the cashier said.

"We ARE!" I replied.  And then I told her ALL about it. See how excited I was?

Then Alia decorated Grandma's room with a birthday banner she made out of felt. (She put it behind my mom for the pictures and then moved it to the other wall so she could see it better.)

Aren't they so cute?

I ended up not getting ANY pictures of the yogurt and goblets because my video somehow got deleted, and I didn't take other photos because my hands were busy serving the treats and feeding my mom, but I think it's just as well.

I don't know if the photos could have captured the moment.

My children, my parents, and I sat together, quiet and happy in Mom's room, reliving her beautiful story from the past and then eating our yogurt out of goblets. 

I got to be the one to feed my mom, and with each little spoonful, I felt more and more grateful for this story I get to live.

Thank you for living it with me. It's comforting, really, to know you're here.

Happy birthday, Mom!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

My Next Book Chapter (She Laughed at All the Right Parts)

Tonight was such a fun night. Mom was in a happy mood. She ate all her dinner. She hugged me and kissed me, and we read scriptures together and watched Jeopardy, and everything was perfect.

I had my next book chapter ready for her, and it's kind of a funny one with some cute stories from her past. (You can read it below, if you'd like.)

She listened to every word and laughed at all the right places. It was precious.

Here's a still shot from a video Alia captured. You can see the tip of my computer on the left, my dad in the background working on photo albums, and then, of course, there's my mom. Look at that face:

Isn't the Lord so nice to give us happy moments like this?

Thank you, everyone, for your amazing support.


 “Oh! That’s My LAY-deeeee!” 
Everyone We Meet Deserves Our Utmost Love and Respect

When I was in high school, our booster club had a special fundraiser where they sold “Bruin Cards,” which enabled families to receive discounts at several local fast food restaurants.

My mother thought this was genius. She especially liked taking us to El Pollo Loco for their “buy one, get one free” burritos after we’d had a busy day at school.

This story, however, isn’t about the burritos. It’s about how my mom treated everyone with love and respect.

One evening at five, after my drama rehearsal had finished, my mom took me over to the El Pollo Loco drive-thru. When it was her turn to order, she leaned out the window toward the microphone on the order box and said in her cute way—kind of slow and kind of loud, so as not to be misunderstood, “Hello! I would like a Classic Chicken Burrito, buy one get one free with the Bruin Card.”

The woman who responded through the speaker sounded elated—beyond anything I had ever heard (or have yet to hear) in a drive-thru lane.

“Oh!” she cried out, like she was greeting a long-lost friend. “That’s my LAY-deeeee!”

I sat in the passenger seat, stunned.

What has my mom been doing over here that would elicit that kind of response? How did she get to the point that the cashier at El Pollo Loco wouldn’t only recognize her voice, but would be utterly excited to see her?

As our car crept through the line, I peppered my mom with questions. Her response was so casual. “This is my friend who is just so nice….”

I finally met the lady when we picked up our burritos. My mom introduced us.  The woman was in her mid-twenties, physically as opposite in appearance from my mom as one can get. But their twin smiles and beautiful souls had somehow connected. “Your mom is so sweet,” she told me.

This experience at the drive-thru has stayed with me for more than 20 years, but it wasn’t until just a couple of years ago that I saw one of these unique interactions in person.

Although my mom’s Alzheimer’s was starting to progress at that point, she still liked to answer the phone, and no one could stop her.

One afternoon while I was visiting, I heard this after the phone rang:
“Hello!” she greeted the caller happily.

Then after listening for a few moments, she replied, “Well, I’m not sure, but let me check.”

“Bob!” she called into the next room, “Do we need a new roof?”

My dad, trying to be patient, but getting a little agitated with my mother’s constant questions, replied, “No, Zoe. We do not need a new roof. We just had ours fixed a few years ago.”

I listened very carefully at that point—wondering how my mother would explain her answer to the salesman.

“I’m sorry,” she began with a truly apologetic tone. “But my husband is a party pooper.”

I stifled a laugh.

“But you have such a nice voice, and I wish you the very best with your sales.”

With that, they ended the call, and I sat still…stunned.

While I would have briskly replied, “I’m sorry, we don’t accept sales calls. Please take our number off your list,” my mother continually showed us through her actions that everyone we meet deserves our love and respect.

These two experiences weren’t the anomalies. They simply represent the framework from which my mother operated.

As a result, even though she got pulled over by police officers eight times throughout her life, she never once got a ticket.

Store clerks and postal carriers would go out of their way to make sure she was well taken care of, and practically every time she got on the phone to address an issue with an insurance or utility company, she got what she needed—simply because she was so nice to them.

I’ve spent years trying to replicate my mother’s art. I want to be just like her.

But each time I asked her to clarify her process, she seemed confused by my question. "Oh, April,” she would say, “Everybody wants to do a kindness! Each person in the world has good in them, and they’re just looking for a reason to share that goodness. All I do is give them the opportunity to do so! I explain what I need, I treat them with love, and I show them how their kindness will help me. They are excited for the chance to make that kind choice.”

As one of the main purposes of this book is to identify what, exactly, my mother did that bonded each of us so tightly to her, I can’t emphasize this point enough:

When you treat others with love, respect, and kindness—no matter who they are and regardless of whether or not they can do anything for you—your children will be watching closely. They will want to be like you, they will feel safe and protected around you, and if a time ever comes when you need them to care for you, they will feel honored to do so because it is their privilege to do a kindness.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Reading My Book to Mom

I mentioned in a previous post that I have felt directed to write a book about my mom.

When I visit each Thursday, I take the chapter I've been working on, and I read it to her aloud.

For the past three weeks, she's listened, and she seems to enjoy what I'm reading, but I could never really tell if she knew what she was hearing.

Tonight was different.

To back up a bit, it was kind of a stressful day. I received a call from my sister this morning, telling me that Mom had developed bed sores and that she needed a new mattress topper and someone to rotate her, clean her, and apply ointment every couple of hours around the clock.

This developed into a deeper conversation--one that we've known was coming but didn't quite want to face: It's time to bring in night nurses who can tend to her while our dad sleeps. Lisa started making phone calls, and tonight is the first night we have a professional nurse staying up to care for her around the clock.

I still went in for my usual Thursday night shift, taking my children with me, bringing along a cooler with our dinner ingredients, and packing my laptop, so I could read my latest chapter to Mom.

We had a wonderful night, and Mom was in good spirits, but as I rotated her, fed her, and cleaned her bed sores, I could just feel that we need to prepare ourselves for this next transition.

No one wants to lose her, and this is so incredibly hard.

After we ate dinner, Dad took his evening walk, the boys went into the front office to watch TV, and Alia and I sat at Mom's bedside. It was quiet and the sun was just barely setting--the perfect time to read. So I pulled out my laptop and shared the stories I'd drafted on Monday afternoon.

She listened carefully as I read, quiet and focused through the whole thing.

When I finished, she looked me in the eye and said, "That was very sweet."

Then as I hugged her, she said, "You have a beautiful way of...."

As she trailed off, I could tell she didn't know how to complete the sentence.

Then she paused for a moment and simply said, "Tender."

I rested my head on her chest as a few tears escaped from my eyes, and then I heard her whisper, "Thank you, Heavenly Father."

As she said those words, I remembered that distinct impression I received from the Lord a few weeks ago, instructing me to write:

April, you need to make this record. There is time for you to write. It will be a gift for you to read it to her. And even though she may appear not to know what you are reading, she will know. And she will feel the love you have for her. And she will see clearly that her work in this life has been worth it.

I hugged her even tighter, a bit of an emotional mess by that point, and then she held my face in her hands and looked at me with eyes that showed that she was really there and said, "I love you. I LOVE you."

There couldn't have been a more perfect moment. It was truly a gift.

Now if any of you happen to want to read the draft of the chapter that I shared with my mother, I've included it here. 

Thank you for being with me on this journey. I'm always tired when I get home from Long Beach, and sometimes I don't feel like writing about it.  But I keep getting the feeling that these experiences aren't just for me--that there are others out there (who may never comment here and who I may never meet) who need to hear these stories. So whoever you might be, God sends His love.

And now for today's chapter...

The Hole in the Nylons 
Miracles will happen for you.

If there’s one thing that all of us would like to see more of in our lives, it’s miracles. Wouldn’t you agree? I yearn for miracles. I pray for them. I hope for them. And one of the reasons I know they are possible is because I’ve seen them happen over and over again in the life of my mother.

This is one of my favorite stories, simple as it may be, that reminds me to trust that miracles can happen.

One Sunday morning, many many years ago, as my mother was getting ready for church, she realized that she had a hole in her nylons, several inches above her shoe line. She searched everywhere in her dresser for another pair, but to no avail. Reaching down to her ankles, she tried to stretch the nylons every which way—hoping that perhaps she could hide the hole inside her shoe or under her skirt, but no matter how much she tried, that hole sat in the same spot.

For a proper woman like my mother, having this gaping hole was somewhat of a catastrophe, but it was time to go to church, and she couldn’t spend any more time worrying about those nylons.

Taking just a moment to herself before joining the rest of the family, she gently offered a prayer: “Father, I’m so sorry that I didn’t check my nylons yesterday, and I’m sorry I don’t have an extra pair. I want to look my very best as I go to worship Thee, but for today, this will have to do.”

She then helped get all of her children into the car, drove to church (where my dad, having early morning meetings, was already there), and sat down with the family on our regular pew.

A few minutes later, still feeling badly about her nylons, she glanced down at her leg.

The hole was gone.

She felt around the sides of her calf, up by her knees, and down by her ankles, but she couldn’t find the hole anywhere.

Completely puzzled by this point, she took off her shoe, and there—on the very bottom of her foot—was the hole.

I heard this story dozens of times while I was growing up.  “April,” she told me, “There was no way that hole could have moved to the bottom of my foot. I had done everything I could to try to position it there. The Lord helped me that day. He understood what I needed, and that was a little blessing He sent just for me.”

Now I know that seems like such a simple, inconsequential thing, but the lesson it basically shouts is that miracles happen. And they’ll happen for you.

I remember one Saturday afternoon, when I needed to get five-year-old Grace to her last soccer game of the season. My husband had planned to go with me to help with our two-month-old baby and our other two children, but a last-minute urgent need from a neighbor required his assistance, and I told him I would be fine.

Once we arrived at the soccer field, I heard Grace gasp, “I forgot my socks and my soccer cleats!”

We were all devastated. There was no time to return home, this was her very last game, and there was no way they would let her play without shoes and socks.

Having learned from my mother’s example (over and over again), I gathered my children around me in the parking lot, and we offered a prayer—apologizing for forgetting the socks and cleats and asking that, if it were possible, Grace would be able to play her game.

We approached the field in faith, and moments later, we ran into a friend of ours whose son had just finished his game. As we explained our plight, our friend said, “Why doesn’t she wear Braden’s socks and cleats? He’s the same size as Grace!” We thought that was an excellent idea, so our two five-year-olds sat on the grass and made the transfer. It was perfect.

These kinds of miracles happen often. They’re always timed “just right,” and they remind me in such a powerful way that we are not alone.

One of my very favorite miracles happened on my birthday a couple of years ago—shortly after my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s—when she was in a rehabilitation center for a broken hip.

As a special treat, my husband stayed home with our four children and sent me to visit her alone for the day.  During the one-hour drive, I was thinking about a list of questions I had written down that morning—things I was hoping the Lord would help me to understand about my life’s course, like how I felt I was continually stretched too thin and that my efforts simply didn’t measure up.

Though I felt a sweetness during the drive and an immense feeling of support, I didn't receive any specific answers to my questions.

When I arrived at the center, I was privileged to have a wonderful lunch with my dad, my sister Laura, and a neighbor of ours who had come to visit. I sat next to my mom and held her hand as much as I could.  She was quiet, but happy. This was a blessing by itself because, up to that point, she hadn’t been doing very well. She had been crying a lot and repeatedly asking when she could go home.

The nurses had explained that she kept trying to find a way out.  One day they found her way out in the corner of the facility by the vending machines. Other days, she would sit by the emergency exit.  One time she made the alarm go off.

But that day, she was calm and happy--totally at ease.

Now there are two very special things about the visit that I feel I can share. 

The first is that they served birthday cake that day.

Once a month, the facility celebrates all of the residents’ birthdays at the same time.
I asked the nurses if they always serve cake on the 19th, and they said no, that it changes every month.

Then it struck me that this was a tender mercy from the Lord.  On my birthday, when I got to go spend the day with my mom--who I missed so much--He arranged for them to have cake.

The second special part of the day was a sweet experience I had while my mom and I were sitting alone in the lobby together.  I had my arms wrapped around her, and she started speaking very quietly--almost indistinctly.

I listened closer, and I could hear that she was giving me counsel and advice. 

Moving my ear as close to her lips as I could, I soon realized that in her calm, encouraging, beautiful voice, she was answering the exact questions I had written down for the Lord that morning.

I won't record the specifics because it was such a sacred moment, and the counsel was just for me, but this was one of the most precious miracles I have ever received in my entire life.

My mom has had dementia (which developed into Alzheimer’s) for pretty much the entire time I have been running Power of Moms.  She doesn't know how to use the Internet, and she isn't involved in my day-to-day life.  But as we sat together, and as she talked to me about my responsibilities, my choices, my struggles, my heart, my goals, and my daily work with my family and with my organization, it was as though she knew everything.  I can't even think about the experience without getting choked up.  No one besides the Lord could have known what to say to me, and He chose to deliver that message through the voice of the one from whom I needed to hear it the most.

I hesitated to even write anything about this experience here--because some things are just so special that you don't want to put them out in front of the world.  But in this case, I feel like He wants me to share this so that if you are struggling, you will know that He is aware of you, too. 

I have zero doubt in the Lord's capacity to perform miracles.  I know He loves all of His children--from every religion and background.  He knows we all make mistakes and that we struggle and that we need help.  And when we turn to Him, He has a limitless ability to supply everything we need.

Miracles happen. They are beautiful. And they are available for all of us.

With love,


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Time for a Self-Assessment :)

These past six weeks have been beautiful in so many ways, but in other ways, I feel like I am going through the hardest time in my life.

Do you mind if I take a couple of minutes to do a self-assessment? I'm guessing that many of you are going through similar things, and maybe if we can go through it together, it won't seem so tricky.

I think one of the things that has made it so hard lately is that I'm not making the time to sit down and write--to step back and process everything that's happening.

I mean, I'm doing good things with my time--things that I've felt directed to do and that help the people around me, but sometimes I feel like my routines and responsibilities come in such quick succession that there's not enough time to really see what I am doing with my life. (Do you ever feel like that?)

I'll start by typing out a little summary of what's been happening around here:

My husband and I work together every day from home.  That's a dream, right? We have a partner desk, and so we face each other while we hold our meetings and type on our computers. We've started recording podcasts together and working on some pretty amazing projects for Power of Moms/Power of Families. He jogs behind me while I rollerblade. He puts me down for naps when I'm cranky. He whistles at me and steals kisses during the day. I'm head-over-heels for him. Our work isn't easy, but we're growing together.

A lot of my time recently has been spent helping my children start the new school year--with special shopping trips for each one (where they learned how to shop on a budget and buy just a few new things they really needed), Back-to-School Night, and all kinds of other little details. We're in a good daily routine now, with morning scripture study and our afternoon smoothie--plus lots of time to talk, prepare meals, and sing together. Our relationships have never been so good.

Every Thursday, we take care of my mom. I've been writing that book I mentioned a few posts back, and each week I hold her hand and read her a new chapter while she rests in her bed. She doesn't seem to understand what I'm reading, but at the end she always smiles and says, "That's so nice!" (A part of one of my chapters was posted on Power of Moms last Tuesday, if you'd like to read it.)

Power of Moms is growing and becoming such a blessing--to my own family and to others. This community is a joint project. I don't take the credit.  But there is something so incredibly powerful happening over there, and I feel an enormous responsibility to do a good job with this. So...we're in the middle of mobilizing/redesigning our site, automating a bunch of systems in our database software, promoting our new webinar series, building Power of Moms Radio, and working on dozens of other projects that fuel the site and community. Honestly, I had no idea what a big job this would be, but it's exciting...and sometimes overwhelming.  :)

I've also been spending quite a bit of time with my calling at church (which I love). I get to be the Personal Progress Coordinator, which means I help the Young Women (ages 12-18) to set and move forward on personal goals. This gives me the opportunity to work closely with Grace and Alia, and I've been creating some new templates and frameworks that will hopefully help the girls to draw closer to Christ--in a way that will have a lasting impact on their lives.

Then there are the more personal systems I've been trying to put in place.  This summer, after being inspired by Jordan Page over at Fun, Cheap, or Free, I completely revamped my spending plan. I thought I was pretty good at budgeting before, but Jordan has helped me to take it to a whole new level. I can't even explain how much this has empowered me.

And after reading The Calorie Myth by Jonathan Bailor, I changed up my diet so I'm now eating 10+ servings of vegetables a day, balanced with lean protein, whole-food fats, and low-fructose fruits, and my body has never felt stronger or happier. (I get to record a podcast with him on Friday, and I'm so excited!) Now I'm trying to get my whole family on board (we're moving in the right direction, but wow, it's a process).

I'm also trying to make time to really be in my scriptures each day. I want to hear the Lord. I need to hear the Lord. He is so, so good to us.

And in the midst of all this, I know He wants me to get enough rest, to read good books, to sit and think, and to realize that everything doesn't have to happen right this minute.

I know I have a good life. I'm living my dream in pretty much every part of it.  

None of it is easy, but I generally feel so grateful and happy.

But here's one element where I need to improve: I need more faith. More faith that the Lord will bless me with the power to do all of these things I feel excited and inspired to do.

I'm guessing that's the hard part for most of us.

In Sunday School a few weeks ago, we read in 1 Kings 17 about the widow who gave Elijah the first portion of her very last bit of food. (Remember that story about the barrel of meal and the cruse of oil that never failed?)

I raised my hand in class and asked how I could better apply that to my life right now. "I feel stretched too thin sometimes," I said. "I wonder if I'll have enough time/energy/patience/ability to do what I feel the Lord wants me to do. How can I better trust in the Lord? How can I know that He will help me?"

And then others in the class started raising their hands in response. At least ten of them. They shared beautiful experiences from their own lives--when they were sure they weren't going to have what they needed, but the Lord came through...every single time.

Something amazing happened as I listened to their stories.

I felt the sweetness of the Spirit tell me that the Lord is totally aware of me. He knows how hard it is for me to move forward each day. He knows how I feel during this whole process of losing my mom. He understands my anxiety over the projects that require so much of my energy, and He recognizes that every day feels like I'm digging into the barrel for that last handful of meal.

But He keeps giving me exactly what I need. He sends mentors and helpers and angels to assist me. He helps me to breathe and to see the vision He has for me. And His Spirit lifts my heart--not so much that I don't have to stretch myself, but enough that I have total confidence that I am not alone.

So that's where I am today. Grateful for Him. Grateful for this life. Hoping that I will one day get to the point where this all doesn't feel so hard, but working desperately to enjoy the process, even while it does.

With love,

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